Fidel Bahe was born in 1949. He was raised in a remote area of the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona, along with his 7 brothers and sisters. Fidel attended college and University in Arizona where he studied architectural design and engineering. He had settled in Phoenix and was working for the BIA Highway Department when he was laid off close to Christmas, 1975.
As fate would have it, Fidel was having lunch with his sister and when he drove her back to work, he noticed a large man with several other men going into a building. He asked his sister who the man was and she told him it was, Preston Monongye, who was teaching a jewelry making class. Fidel decided to take his class where he excelled and Preston then took him on as an apprentice. He learned the art of tufa casting with Preston.
He later apprenticed with Victor Beck learning the arts of silver fabricating and lapidary work. At the same time that he was apprenticing with Victor Beck, he would visit with Charles Loloma who was very helpful in Fidel becoming the master jeweler he is today. Charles told him to stay focused and that to become “a really good craftsman”, he should “pick four pieces of knowledge”, and keep those and discard everything else. “The day you accomplish this, you will become a real artist”. It took Fidel many years to understand this.
Next, Fidel went to work for Rocking Horse Ranch, which was owned by Kevin and Lonnie Randall. It was here that he learned the art of making 1st and 2nd phase Concho belts. At Rocking Horse Ranch, creating 1st and 2nd Phase type jewelry was emphasized. This was where he refined his art, learning from and working close to master jewelers, Wilson Jim and Edison Smith.
Fidel has become a master jeweler by emphasizing what he believes are most important in creating excellent jewelry. These are traditional values, technique, execution, quality, consistency, uniqueness and artistic value.